Since I need to pass a German fluency test in exactly one month, I am trying to go on an all-German diet. This includes only watching German movies and TV shows. While there are several popular action, drama, and comedy TV series in Germany, many of these are difficult for me to understand. I have tried watching “Tatort,” which is like German CSI, but between the police lingo and varying dialects, I can’t always keep up. But do you know what I can understand? Reality TV shows!
I loathe American reality TV shows, but for some reason, when it comes to their German counterpart, I just can’t get enough. So if you are looking to learn German yourself or want to brush on your Deutsch by watching some mindless television, here is my list of the top 5 German reality TV shows.5. Goodbye Deutschland (Goodbye Germany)
As an expat, I find this show pretty interesting. It follows Germans that choose to move abroad for varying reasons from work to weather. Some of them end up having a very successful life. They find a great job, fall in love with a native, the whole shebang. Others realize that they can’t actually speak the language, have no practical skills, and end up moving back home. Unfortunately it is a cheesy reality/drama where everything is quite scripted, but it’s still okay to watch when nothing from higher on this list is on.
4. Shopping Queen
Each week, Shopping Queen takes place in a different city, where five women have been chosen to compete for the Shopping Queen title and a little cash. The host, Guido Maria Kretschmer, gives the women a topic for the week. For example, the last one I saw was “animal print.” Then, on Monday, the first woman will have her turn. She receives 500 Euro and has four hours to purchase a full outfit to match the challenge as well as get her hair and makeup done. At the end of the episode, she shows her outfit to the other women, and they judge it. This continues each day, ultimately culminating on Friday, when whoever has the highest score wins.
3. Mieten, Kaufen, Wohnen (Rent, Buy, Live)
This is the German version of “House Hunters,” and since I am addicted to HGTV in the U.S., this show is right up my alley. As a foreigner, I love it because you can see a ton of different German cities and the amazing houses and apartments in them. Usually the people on the show are loaded too, so these are places that I would never get to see in real life. Unlike “House Hunters,” however, it is always the same realtors in “Mieten, Kaufen, Wohnen.” This means that they try to create some kind of lame storyline with each of the realtors, but I just tune out for those parts. In fact, people that love “House Hunters” but don’t understand German could probably just watch it on mute.
2. Das Perfekte Dinner (The Perfect Dinner)
Like “Shopping Queen,” “Das Perfekte Dinner” is on Monday through Friday, featuring a different city each week. It airs at 7 p.m., and since this is when my German boyfriend and I typically eat dinner, we end up watching it almost every night. For each episode, one of the five contestants throws a dinner party at their house or apartment for the other four. They each rate the meal, and whoever has the most points on Friday wins. I actually really enjoy this show, and it is not nearly as scripted as the other shows on this list. Although, I have never actually met a German that said they also watch it…
1. Bauer Sucht Frau (Farmer Searches for a Wife)
If you are American, you may remember the show “Farmer Wants a Wife” from 2008. It only lasted one season as it was wildly unsuccessful. In Germany, however, this show is pure gold. Bauer Sucht Frau follows several farmers looking for love. They start off by picking a woman from a bunch of applicants. Then she will stay at the farmer’s house until either she decides she wants to leave, or the farmer decides he doesn’t like her. What makes this show great is that it is real farmers – not male models wearing a flannel shirt and some ripped jeans. In fact, most of them speak with such a hillbilly accent that the show has to use subtitles, adding to the greatness.
So those are my top 5 German reality TV shows. They’ve actually helped my German a lot, even if though it’s probably not the type of language I can use on my test. But for anyone out there also looking to learn German, I highly suggest turning on the TV. And if you already watch some German TV, then let me know in the comments what your favorite German TV shows are, reality or not.
Courtney is an American expat living abroad in Germany. After studying abroad in Germany during college, she immediately knew that she wanted to go back. So after graduating, that’s just what she did.
She now works as a freelance writer and is pursuing her Masters degree in Germany. To read more about her experiences and adventures, check out her blog at Courtney the Ami.